BaltSun Runs Obligatory Sad Old People Story About Digital TV Conversion

Did you know that elderly people are utterly hopeless sad sacks who can't adapt to change?

That's what readers of the Baltimore Sun were basically greeted with in a February 17 story -- "Some left out in switch from analog to digital signal" -- which dutifully found two elderly women who are unprepared for a partial TV-less existence since two Baltimore stations ditched their analog signals at midnight.

Baltimore Sun reporters David Zurawik and Sam Sessa told the sad tales of 68-year old Janice Stephenson and 84-year old Eula Riggle. Sandwiched between their tales of woe, Zurawik and Sessa quoted a college professor who blamed the federal government for the supposed catastrophe and a politician who complained about the voucher program and the quality of the converter boxes that have been installed for senior citizens.

Yet when it comes to the Sun's actual poster women for TV deprivation, Stephenson and Riggle, the former had planned to start a cable subscription -- she postponed it having heard of the nationwide DTV conversion deadline being pushed back to June -- and the latter bought a converter box, only to end up selling it to someone else.

Let's think about this for a moment. With installation fees and taxes, even the most basic cable package would cost Stephenson as much in the first month, if not more, than buying a digital converter box without a government voucher.

As for Eula Riggle, she "applied for a coupon and had a friend drive her to a nearby Rite Aid, where she bought a converter." But, Zurawik and Sessa lamented, "Riggle couldn't figure out how to set up the converter and ended up selling it instead.":

"I'm an old-fashioned person," she said. "If they want you to have it, that's fine, I don't think they should tell you you have to have it. Whatever they do, they do. I'm just left out."

Wait a minute, Riggle has no children or grandchildren to help her set up her converter box? What about her friend who drove her to Rite Aid or a neighbor, friend, or someone from church?

But why ask those questions when your goal is to present elderly people as a class of hapless victims in need of government help?

Baltimore Sun Government & Press Sam Sessa David Zurawik